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This year has been somewhat turbulent for Škoda.

In January, the brand’s head of fleet, Martin Burke, left to take up a new role as head of customer quality for Volkswagen Group UK. It took seven months to find a replacement.

In the meantime, Škoda’s fleet sales continued to increase but its Fit for Fleet initiative, aimed at gearing a number of its retailers to serve the fleet market, was in crisis.

Alasdair Stewart, brand director for Škoda UK, admitted to Fleet News: “It has not worked out particularly well – we’re having to reinvent the whole thing.”

It’s a task which has fallen to Burke’s replacement, Patrick McGillycuddy, who joined Škoda in August having previously been national corporate sales manager at Vauxhall.

Fleet News: Where did Fit for Fleet go wrong?

Patrick McGillycuddy: I can’t comment on the past, but what I can say is we’re evolving the programme to become a more local business-focused programme.

It will become our local business development programme in name as well as in its execution.

It’s going to be 25 to 30 retailers, focusing on the local business opportunities in their area. Their primary target will be sub-25 vehicle fleets.

We’re going to make sure we select the right retailer, the right local business manager and we give them the right tools to be successful.

FN: How is it different to Fit for Fleet?

PM: We’re going to dedicate resource at head office to drive success, whereas historically we didn’t.

We’ve appointed Paul Fitton, who was one of our area fleet managers, to be our retailer programme manager.

Paul is currently setting up the assessment programme.

This is where we will assess the local business managers against a set of competencies to identify their training needs for them to be endorsed as a local business retailer.

FN: Rather than dealers putting themselves forward for the programme, are you now selecting them?

PM: No, it’s a combination. Dealers elected themselves before and they can elect themselves again.

Everything is on the basis of a business plan, as it was before and will be now

We’re going to make sure that the business plan is good and will be successful, so we’re putting the resource in with Paul’s appointment.

FN: When will the Local Business Development Programme be up and running?

PM: It is anticipated to go live on January 1, 2014. We’ve informed the retail network of our intention to evolve the programme to be more local business focused and that we will be running assessments through early December.

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